June 23, 2008
Valdosta - Hundreds of teens from across the nation will help the City of Valdosta win it's battle against substandard housing.
370 teens, many who have never even heard of Valdosta before, will spend a week in the city.
It's part of the Southern Hospitality Workcamp, a program that helps repair and fix homes for elderly and disabled families.
One of those homes belongs to Elaine Ward. When it rains in Valdosta, it pours in her home. "I needed a roof really bad because it was raining in the den area really bad."
But the repairs were a cost she simply couldn't afford. "I could not afford it. I'm on a fixed income and I'm disabled so I could not afford it without this help."
The help she's referring to is the Southern Hospitality Workcamp, a group of nearly 400 teens from around the country. All with one common goal.
"I wanted to give something back. It just felt like a good thing to do," says Garrett Walsh, who traveled from Florida with his youth group.
"Its such a good feeling knowing you are really making a positive contribution in someone's life," say Massachusetts native Emily Vonloesecke.
They'll repair 40 homes around the community. That includes putting a new roof on Elaine's home and fixing the patio for her neighbor, Mary Berrien.
"I am so happy. I don't know what to do," Berrien says."Couldn't sleep at all. I didn't!"
All the work will be done by Friday. "I can't hardly wait. I'm so excited!" Berrien exclaims.
And the teen will return Saturday having put some new life into these old homes and a renewed spirit of those who live in them.
This is the fourth year the workcamp has come to Valdosta and have repaired nearly 150 homes in that time.